Monday, June 30, 2014

What's Bugging You?

Shortly after I posted about making deodorant on Facebook a friend messaged me to see if I had any suggestions for Deet free bug spray.  I did!  Sometimes I surprise myself with these things.  First, I suggested what I had been using for quite some time. Before going to Tanzania (at least 7? years ago), a notoriously buggy (and by buggy, I mean malaria carrying mosquito) place, I purchased a 4 oz. bottle of Kiss My Face Brand "Swy Flotter."  It has literally lasted since then.  I think I just don't often apply bug spray.  But I have found it to be effective and it is Deet free.  Upon closer inspection of the bottle recently, I noticed it does have one particularly nasty ingredient...parabens.  What are parabens?  Well, actually I don't know.  But I DO know they are carcinogenic and I try to avoid known cancer causing agents at all costs.  But, for the sake of argument, let's find out what parabens ARE.  This pretty well sums it up, yes?  So, parabens are preservatives that prevent the growth of microbes in cosmetics.

You guys.  This is where I stopped writing for a bit and did a LOT more reading.  Prior to this, I really didn't know what parabens were, just that they were BAD and I should avoid products with parabens in the ingredient list.  But you know what else is bad?  Microbes.  It's one thing for me to decide to use products with natural ingredients, but if I'm telling other people about the good reasons to do so, I want to make sure I'm giving you all the facts.  I got very nervous here as I don't want to create a bug spray that gets you sick.  That would be bad.  So, then I learned more about anti-microbials and I'm feeling confident again.  Even a little angered that if the following ingredients I was already planning to use ARE anti-microbial (just like parabens, only not linked directly to cancer) then WHY aren't they being more widely used?

So, besides parabens, what else is anti-microbial?

  • Witch Hazel
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Vanilla Extract
Right, just about every ingredient in this recipe for bug spray.  So, we're good.  I'm also planning to use boiled water as an added precaution.  The real question then is, if all of these natural oils ARE anti-microbial, why are parabens still being used?  All that said, I do NOT suggest holding on to this bug spray for 7 years.  In fact, my doing so even with a paraben laden product is probably questionable.  I am planning to label these for the 2014 summer season with the suggestion to discard (or send your bottle in for a refill for the following buggy/summer season) at the end of summer.

Hey look at that!!  Apparently, Kiss My Face HAS made some progress in the last 7 years as this photo from the interwebs indicates that Swy Flotter is now paraben free!  #winning

Friday, June 27, 2014

Coconut Oil: The Base-ics

You may feel like you've been hearing a lot about coconut oil lately.  I know I have.  My Facebook feed fills with magical sounding claims.  Almost as many uses as breastmilk.  Of course, Facebook and the people you connect with via social media coupled with your search history populate what you ultimately see there.  For example, my brother-in-law was telling me about a neat video.  It was the one with the job interview that seems both ridiculous and impossible and ends up being the job description for a mom.  At the time he mentioned it, I had seen it posted daily, possibly multiple times a day for at least a month.  I explained to him that I see ALLthemomthings.  Because I am a mom.  He is far less likely to see such items because he is not.  Likewise, I am a dirty hippie.  But I say that in a loving, proud way.  I am crunchtastic.  So, depending upon where you fall on that spectrum, you may or may not be aware of ALL the ways coconut oil can CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  For reals.  So, let me tell you.  Here are 101 Uses for Coconut Oil from Wellness Mama.  And here are 101 more!  (Some are probably the same, but I saw some that are unique!).  And because 101 clearly is NOT enough to convince you, here are 160 along with many of the reasons you should give it a spin.  Quite frankly,  I'm starting to surprise myself because someone took the time to compile 1,001 ways to use coconut oil.  There are even books dedicated to 101 uses for coconut oil and the coconut oil miracle.


Just last night, Cece and I went with my aunt to Rita's Water Ice.  They do not serve coconut oil at Rita's.  That's not where I was going with this.  While I did not notice biting bugs or mosquitoes, Cece was saying that the backs of her legs tickled and she needed to scratch them.  I asked her to come over so I could take a look and she had what looked like huge welts all over the backs of her legs.  I worried that it was poison ivy.  It was not.  I asked her not to scratch which took all the will power she had.  When we got home, Jeff checked her and confirmed they looked like bug bites.  I was kicking myself for not having already concocted some bug spray.  What better day to make bug spray than the day AFTER you need it?  But I immediately thought of coconut oil.  It was hard to ignore that thought what with the 40 pound vat that had arrived just that afternoon.  I smoothed some all over the backs of her legs.  When she woke up this morning, the welts had gone down.  The bites looked more like normal sized bug bites and she reported no more itching.

The reason I am sharing all this is because coconut oil makes up the base of both of our deodorant recipes.  And some people wonder why.  Well, if you read the link above with 160 uses, you will note that the first thing mentioned about coconut oil is that it is anti-bacterial.  So, you sweat and you sniff, and think my sweat stinks.  Right?  Wrong!  Your sweat doesn't stink, but the bacteria under your arm does, and it breaks down when mixed with the sweat produced by the glands in your armpits.  But, what do you think takes care of that bacteria?  You guessed it!!  Coconut oil.

And now, I leave you with...oil pulling.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rooty Tooty, Fresh and Arrowroot-y

This title may give away the fact that I'm a little loopy right now.  Because it's late at night (I wrote this last night) and I should be sleeping but instead, I want to share with you about the awesomeness of arrowroot powder and not wait a moment longer.  So, the original recipe that I tried called for a combination of cornstarch and arrowroot powder and because prior to this project, I had never heard of arrowroot or its powder before, I did not have any on hand.  But I powered through and googled a suitable substitute for AP.  Cornstarch.  Perfect.  I had that.  So I used that.

Doesn't this look picturesque and so...American?  Amber waves of grain and all that... I guess that would actually refer to wheat though, right?  Sadly, it's most likely GMO and being produced primarily for high fructose corn syrup, or to fatten up livestock or chickens, and the process of extracting corn starch is highly toxic.  But I didn't know that yet...well, actually I did know some of that, but it hadn't really occurred to me.  At that point, I was making this for myself.  And my first thought was...cornstarch is cheap.  So that's good.

Then, when I tossed this idea out to Facebook to see if other people were interested in natural deodorant, I wanted to make sure that I would be making a good, high-quality product.  And I went back to the original recipe and wondered...why arrowroot powder?  And I came across this: Read it.  Then come back.  We will discuss.

So, still pros and cons to consider.  If this plant is native to South America, it probably did a good bit of traveling to get here.  That's bad for the environment.  But...also bad for the environment is our mono-crop plantings on vast swaths of land that is robbing the soil of life.  The whole idea of GMO frightens me and the pesticide runoff alone is maybe worse than the miles the arrowroot powder traveled.  And then there is the end result of most corn grown on American soil.  It's not for human consumption and it's often used as feed on factory farms.  So, there's that.  So... Arrowroot powder for the win!  Ever since, I've been using arrowroot powder in my own recipe that has been tweaked far enough from the original that I can consider it my own.

I leave you with some arrowroot cleaning by hand.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Buy Local

I am a big believer in supporting local small business, so I'm sort of geeking out that THIS could be a local small business.  And that there may be opportunities to help strengthen other local small businesses as a result.  Today, a friend who just yesterday got her own BFB deodorant to start using shared that it held up beautifully to chasing her son around the playground.  What a true testament!!  And that one share has had a ripple effect.  One friend of hers asked if BFB was available in stores or if she was hosting a home party?  Home party?  Stores?  Oh my.

While doing my research, I did visit two local small businesses that might be likely to carry a deodorant product such as this to see what was out there, what was in it, and how much it cost.  I can tell you this, the recipe was similar but not as...simple.  And what I have learned so far is that less really is more.  Especially when it comes to what you put on or in your body.  Also, both of the other products contained cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder (more on that distinction and why I think it's important in a future post).  While I was "researching" (you know...spying) in the second store, I was open with the shop owner about what I was doing and he was incredibly helpful and interested in hearing from me when it was ready to "go to market." just never know.  But, one thing at a time.  I am trying to keep this manageable and thus, relatively small.

Home parties are a definite possibility.  Anyone want to have one?  I could have a few of each available, or take orders, or bring supplies and make them there.

The next ripple from that same post was my very first order from someone I do not personally know. And who is not local.  Which is totally ok, awesome even, just totally unexpected!!  And then I had to figure out shipping!  On that note, I *think* though I plan to investigate further at the post office that flat rate shipping is approximately $6 and (according to my husband) will ship anywhere in the US if it fits in the envelope.  Seems like the way to go.  I am very reluctant to ship the bee free formula.  At least in the summer months.  I can only imagine someone opening up that envelope to find a puddle.  The beeswax formula *should* hold up to shipping.  We will find out soon enough!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Packing on the Pounds

After filling some orders,

And running out of coconut oil,

I realized it was time to make some "bulkier" purchases.  The first time I ordered, I got a few tester/travel size containers, a much larger number of the "normal" size deodorant containers, 1 lb. of Arrowroot powder, 1 lb. of coconut oil, brown kraft labels (which were approximately 4x larger than I had thought...and I measured) and some new essential oil blends based on preferences indicated by testers.  Yesterday and today, I ordered more testers, bug spray containers to try that out, glass containers for those who might prefer deodorant in a more Eco-friendly container (more on that in a later post) 25 pounds of Arrowroot Powder,  40 pounds of coconut oil, and 50 pounds of baking soda, and more appropriately sized labels.  The Arrowroot powder arrived today.

If this is what 25 pounds looks like, I am frightened to learn what 50 pounds of baking soda looks like and the vat of coconut oil that is on its way...eek!  Should make a lot of deodorant!!

High Stakes Testing

As a teacher, high stakes testing is nothing new to me.  But the last few weeks around here have involved a different kind of testing.  When I first had this idea, I went to Facebook to see if (a) anyone was interested and (b) if I could coerce a few people to test it out for me and give me feedback.  As it turned out (a) yes, there was/is a lot of interest and (b) I had to sadly turn interested people away!  Who knew?!?  So, after establishing the first five testers, I made up batches in 2 different scents (as mutually decided by the testers) and both formula consistencies so that each person would have an opportunity to compare.  So far the feedback has been helpful in continuing to develop the beeswax formula and encouraging that users are finding that it works!  So far, so good.

One of the tester's hubs is a scientist and was/is interested in the formula.  And then he was interested in trying it himself.  Which sparked round two of testing.  Man funk.  And as it turns out, I know some funky men (this is meant in the most endearing way!).  I'm excited for the challenge of addressing both BO and also to see if there is an effect on sweat and irritation.  I didn't see all of this as a science experiment when I started out but that is certainly what it has become!

More on all my funky men (and women) and their experiences coming soon!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Best Kind of Chemistry Happens in the Kitchen

I recently saw this posted on a friend's Facebook feed.
Photo credit: Hank Campbell +Hank Campbell 
All true.  I make this homemade weed killer.  I will not call it non-chemical or chemical-free as neither of those claims would be true (obviously).  Actually, upon closer inspection, my "recipe" calls for normal salt, not Epsom salt but that is neither here nor there.  In fact, weed killer is not at all the point of this post.  So let me get to the point.  Well, before I do that, I'll talk about weeds just a moment longer.  This recipe, while not chemical free, is still a heck of a lot better for the health of children and pets and a whole lot cheaper to make in your kitchen.  That is all.  About that.  I have more to say.

My point.  I will not claim that BFB deodorant is chemical free, because baking soda is a chemical.  But, it is a chemical you can safely ingest.  In fact, besides the essential oils which some people say you can ingest and others say you can/should not (I always err on the side of caution when it comes to ingesting things, so to be clear, I am advising you not to ingest essential oils), you could eat all of the ingredients in this deodorant.  EDIBLE deodorant!  Especially if you get it fragrance free.  Once again, I am not suggesting you actually eat deodorant.  That would be weird.  Really...strange.  But IF you were on a deserted island and you happened to have this deodorant with you, you could totally last a few extra days by eating it.  Just sayin'.

I WILL claim that is is both homemade and handmade.  Because it is, by me.  In my kitchen.  How quaint.  Perhaps I am even barefoot in the kitchen.  Also, perhaps not.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Origin of an Idea

I saved a recipe for a homemade coconut oil based deodorant on Pinterest a while ago.  Making it was on my to-do list ever since and two weeks ago, an actual nap (baby boy's not mine, sadly) made it possible for me to check the pantry to see if I had all the ingredients I needed.  Not exactly.  But I've never let that stop me before!  So.  What did I have?  Baking soda? Check!  Coconut Oil?  Check!  Arrowroot Powder?  WTH is arrowroot powder?  I actually WILL address WTH arrowroot powder is and why we DO now use it.  But on that day, no dice.  If ever you encounter such an issue with a baking recipe, I suggest you follow this advice.  WWGD: What Would Google Do?  I searched substitute for arrowroot powder and voila!  Cornstarch!  Who knew?  So these two substances are approximately interchangeable.  So, on that day I used cornstarch.  Next, essential oils.  Hmmm.  Well, I had essential oils but I don't know many people who want to smell like Lemon Eucalyptus.  To explain, I use that on the soles of my feet when I have a cough.  Works wonders!  But, even when needed, my husband hates that particular stink so the likelihood he would tolerate it on my underarms was slim to none.  What else might work?  Ah ha!  I had an Aura Cacia body oil.  When I checked the ingredients, it included a blend of essential oils and (bonus!) Vitamin E.  Jackpot.  I found the recipe easy to follow and prepare and I poured it into two empty deodorant containers I had been saving for just such an occasion.  Popped them in the refrigerator and done!  It was like magic.  And I thought to myself, "I wonder if anyone else might like some...?" Five randomly selected Facebook testers later, some adjustments to the recipe to make it our own and here we are, seeing if any of you lovely people might like some too.  Visit our products page to see what is available and send an email to: for more information or to place an order.

Pinterest DIY Coconut Deodorant Recipe

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The "Natural" Deodorant Aisle

So, you've made the decision to jump in to the natural deodorant aisle at Whole Foods.  Been there.  Done that.  Let me share just a few of the brands I've tried that haven't worked.  I've been a little stinky for about 6 years.  A long time, right?  You might have thought I would have tried to make my own sooner.  But, it took 6 years for a reason.  I don't like to waste either.  So, each of these was used from start to finish even if they didn't work.  Stinky and expensive!  Let me save you the trouble.  I present to you, "The Sniff of Shame."

This one was tricky.  It looked too good to be true.  And, as it turned out it was.  For all the good it did, I may as well have been spritzing with water.

While I can say with a degree (get it?  Degree?!) of certainty that this deodorant didn't work, they had me at tea tree oil.  And I WILL say that I do love Alba Botanica's sunscreen offerings.  My family and I have been using their sunscreen for a number of years and it is consistently featured on the Environmental Working Group's Best Sunscreen List.  This year is no different:

Verdict: Sunscreen = Yes, Deodorant = No
In theory, I love Tom's.  I love that it is widely available and accessible.  Because, I no longer have the time (or money) to shop at Whole Foods on a regular basis, so while this brand IS available there, it is also available everywhere else.  Which I like.  What I don't like, that it doesn't work.  Bummer.

Verdict: Toothpaste = Yes, Deodorant = No

Overall, while I suggest you steer clear of Whole Foods for deodorant and either make your own or give Barefoot Body a try, I CAN get on board with what they are saying here:

Choose a better deodorant.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Question Authority

I was doing some online reading to find some sources that might be helpful to someone getting started looking at more natural deodorant options that are aluminum and paraben free.  Just now, I was reading a WebMD article.  I know.  Questionable at best.  And even more questionable when I read this:

"These products can be used with high confidence of their safety. They've been used for many years, and there's no evidence that suggests a problem," says John Bailey, PhD, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council, the trade association that represents the cosmetic and personal care products industry.

So...just to be clear here.  I should listen to Dr. John Bailey who just happens to be employed by the Personal Care Products Council?  No, thank you.  Does he seem like he might be a smidge biased to anyone else?